Starcraft II beta sign-ups begin, 'summer' date set

[UPDATE] Testing phase for Blizzard Entertainment's heavily anticipated PC RTS game just weeks away, "phase will signal the final stretch of development," says Mike Morhaime.

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Blizzard Entertainment is known for giving out early access to its upcoming games as part of its BlizzCon and Worldwide Invitational events. Last year, the publisher hooked up show attendees with a beta key for Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty, the first installment in the now-trifurcated series.

Soon, those recipients will be able to put that code to use. The publisher said today that Starcraft II sign-ups have begun for when the test begins "in the months ahead." [UPDATE] During a May 7 earnings call, Blizzard president and co-founder Mike Morhaime clarified that the publisher meant just a few months. "This summer we will opening up external beta testing and while we haven't announced a release date yet, this phase will signal the final stretch of development," the executive told analysts during a conference call.

A Protoss family reunion.
A Protoss family reunion.

Those who have not received a beta code from one of Blizzard's events can sign up for the beta test through the Beta Profile Settings page on the Battle.net account-management Web site. Through the sign-up process, interested participants will be asked to upload their system stats. Blizzard notes that the process will also let users register for future, as-yet-unannounced beta tests.

Yesterday, Blizzard revealed that BlizzCon 2009 will take place this year on August 21-22. Tickets for the event will run $125--a $25 markup from the year prior--and will be available on May 16. In anticipation of heavy demand, which was powerful enough last year to crash the publisher's online store, Blizzard plans to offer an encore sale on May 30.

Blizzard has yet to reveal when Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty will ship for the PC. For more information on the game, check out GameSpot's previous coverage.

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